Now that their voters have approved, officials in Malden and Medford are preparing to implement a property tax surcharge that will bring new revenues for open space protection and other community needs.
At their Nov. 3 elections, voters in the two cities approved the state Community Preservation Act, which authorizes an up to 3 percent surcharge for open space, historic preservation, affordable housing, and recreation projects. Woburn voters rejected it.
Malden’s surcharge is for 1 percent, while Medford’s is for 1.5 percent. The surcharges take effect next fiscal year — which begins July 1 — and exempts properties owned by low-income residents and low- to moderate-income seniors, along with the first $100,000 value of all properties.
The surcharges would annually raise an estimated $1 million for Medford, and $508,000 for Malden. The estimated annual extra cost to the average Medford homeowner would be $53, and $26 in Malden.
Malden and Medford are moving to create committees to recommend expenditures of their CPA revenues, which will by augmented by state funds. Currently, the state is giving 29.7 percent of the amount each municipality raises.
The Medford City Council recently voted to ask its president to create a panel that will draft an ordinance to create a Community Preservation Committee. The Malden City Council’s Rules and Ordinance Committee, at 6:15 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 1 is set to begin discussion of two competing proposed ordinances for a CPA committee, one offered by Councilor at large Debbie DeMaria, and the other by Ward 6 Councilor Neil Kinnon.
Steven Keleti, chair of the committee that urged a “Yes” vote in Malden,, said his group worked with DeMaria on her proposal and objects to Kinnon’s plan because it provides for city councilors to hold five of the nine CPA committee seats.
“The City Council already has thumbs up or down on approving CPA projects so having them also run the committee short-circuits the opportunity to have an independent review,” Keleti said.
Kinnon said by e-mail his plan would provide for “geographic balance” as well as balance between the legislative and executive branches in determining the use of CPA funds.
“The ultimate approval . . . would be the full council’s, but unless they are there at the initial allocation of funds, special interests are more likely to determine the outcomes,” he said.
In Malden, the CPA passed by 3,365 votes to 2,149, and in Medford by a count of 6,293 to 5,022.
In contrast to the Woburn ballot question, which drew strong opposition from the Woburn Business Association, the Malden and Medford proposals drew no clear organized opposition, the campaign leaders said.
Keleti said the Malden proposal also benefited from sharing the ballot with two successful non-binding questions touching on similar themes. One proposed a moratorium on multifamily development of five or more units outside the Central Business District, and the other supported the city’s purchase of the former Malden Hospital site to create open space and an historic park.
The Woburn ballot question failed by a vote of 3,756 to 1,969. It marked the third time voters have rejected the CPA and the second time in two years.
“I think the problem was we had very strong opposition from the business community — certain parts of it — and some of the city councilors opposed us,” said June Mackenzie, chair of the CPA ballot committee.
She said it was possible advocates might try again in the future, but “Right now I don’t think it would work because the people have spoken.”firstname.lastname@example.org